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Print (MA)

Xintong Zhang

Xintong Zhang is a London-based artist whose practice incorporates etching, stone lithography, moving image and installation. She graduated from Sun Yat-Sen University in Anthropology in 2019 before she came to study her MA in Print at Royal College of Art. Due to her research background, Xintong uses an anthropological methodology in her art practice to document the dialogue between humans and plants.

May 2021 Online exhibition: Safe Distance at Shiverarts Gallery/ UK

May 2021 Online exhibition: Travel Faster than Light/ UK & India

April 2021 Teaching replacement at De Montfort University/ UK

April 2021 AAIP Book publication Exhibition/ Bremen/ Germany

February 2021 Teaching replacement at Central Academy of Fine Arts/ China

February 2021 SW11NDOWS exhibition/ London

February 2020 Work In Progress Show/ Royal College of Art/ London

Xintong’s work is focused on investigating the value of weeds in urban landscapes as a metaphor for resistance to the hierarchical value system in human society. She exposes their fragility and marginalised property by running fresh plants directly under the printing press, to make imprints on top of etched images. Her works aims to bring attention to the beauty of those whose existence is isolated or marginalised and raises discussions on our living circumstances, identity and sense of belonging. 

Xintong enjoys the process of printmaking. It has led her to experiment with photoetching, mono-printing and stone lithography. She has found her own way to visualise wild plants in the city landscapes. Using her dual histories as an artist and anthropologist Xintong builds on her fieldwork, studying weeds in Yunnan, China in 2017. As the base of all her works, fieldwork allows her to share a new vision of the value of the overlooked in an urban environment. 

The Spring I've Never Seen
The Spring I've Never Seen
The Spring I've Never Seen
The Spring I've Never Seen
The Spring I've Never Seen

With the weeds I collected during 2021 spring, I tried to combine two basic processes I usually use: aquatint and spit-bite. In this way, I could capture a clear silhouette with the fallen rosin and record the texture of the weeds’ surface. ‘The Spring I’ve Never Seen’ is quite significant for me: because of the lockdown in March 2020, I did not go out of my home for about three months and missed the first spring I would have experienced in London. I have no idea what I have missed because I saw it only through a window. It’s the spring I’ve never seen.

Weeds are migrants that are not supposed to be in the city. They came from somewhere else no matter where they originated from. They come from the wilderness but are not considered to be ‘nature’ in a positive way. They’re wild but not natural. I have to rethink the definition of weed and wilderness.

We need to pay attention to the regular items or principles. It’s too easy for us to miss out on them even if they’re also a part of our city. Weeds are defiantly a part of the city because of their persistent savagery. They are the opposite of culture, artificiality and established value.


aquatint on zinc plate, printed with plants on Somerset 300 gsm paper
Before The Spring

When the early spring arrived, people started weeding, my fieldwork was forced to stop. I feel sorry about the death of these plants. I was told that they have to be removed before the spring, or they'll take over flower beds and footpaths. 

In the memory of the weeds in spring, I wrote a poem for them:

I could be abandoned

I could be neglected

I could be removed

I could be hurt

I could be covered

I am here

I am beautiful

I am you

Now, it’s spring


Digital print on film, tracing paper, and Japanese paper


16.6 x 11.8 x 0.5
Violet — The reverse side of Violet
Veronica — The reverse side of Veronica
Clover — The reverse side of Clover

After the suspension of 6 months’ lockdown, I collected some fresh weeds in the spring and pressed them over the etched imprints of weeds from the previous autumn. The encounters of the plants were never supposed to happen as some of them appear in spring only. They travelled through time, through space, through violence and finally meet on the paper.


aquatint on zinc plate, printed with plantson Somerset 300 gsm paper
fading — Plants directly printed on Japanese paper

Fading is a slow process of disappearing after death. The traces of the weed sap left on paper marks the violence from the brutal act of the pressing, as well as the immediate death of the weeds. The liquid is absorbed by the paper until it is fully degraded and gone, as if it never existed.

The work aims to examine the invisible violence towards marginalised groups and questions the power system.


7 seconds

When the weeds are in touch with the litho stone, I always imagine that they would grow to break through the stone, conquer the space and eventually dominate the cities. I know they will one day.


stone lithography printed on Somerset 300 gsm paper
We Are The Weeds

This project is associated with my queer identity and my cry to the suppressed state of the LGBTQ community in our societies. A beautiful weed happens to sprout in a garden, people see it and pull it out from the soil. I am reclaiming the word ‘weed’.

We are the weeds.

We fight to survive,

We resist, 

In solidarity.

The work, followed by an interview was also shown in documentary Safe Distance directed by Jamie Chi.


giclée print


12.7cm x 17.78cm
A Chair, A Door And A Person

During the first Lockdown, I felt so nervous that I dare not go out. But at the same time, I cannot stand the life in my room. I want to go out and be with the weeds, the dirt, and the fresh air.


stop motion


59 seconds
Growth On Death
Twenty-five Days — sequence: left to right, up to down

I started my new work in January with fieldwork. I felt terrible when the third lockdown started; I'm confused, angry, worried and sad. Powerlessness came to me, and I knew I should do something to fill my life. I forced myself to go out everyday morning to lead a regular life and observe the weeds in early spring. I was healing myself by observing them every day, recording their growing and dying, time passed by, and it seems that nothing was left, but the lives never stop their path, even during such a terrible time.

I took a photo every day in the same place to record their daily life; I saw them live with rubbish and dead leaves, I saw the birds left their feathers, I saw they were killed, and a new one came out, I feel the energy from these tiny creatures.


digital photography